FareShare worker carrying crate of fruit.


FareShare: “Barclays’ support allows us to get food where it's needed”

26 February 2021

Over eight million people in the UK are struggling to put food on the table. As part of its £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package, Barclays has double matched UK customer and colleague donations to charity FareShare to help get food where it's needed most. FareShare volunteer Sarah and CEO Lindsay Boswell explain how these donations have made a difference.

When Sarah, a mum of five in Birmingham, reached a crisis a few years ago, UK food charity FareShare was there to help her.

“It was either keep the house warm or eat,” she recalls. “It was quite a relief to know that there are people out there who care and can help. They brought food I could cook with: chicken, cheese, tinned soup, all sorts.”

Having experienced what it’s like to not have enough to eat, Sarah is now helping people who have been struggling during the pandemic by volunteering with FOOD clubs. The initiative, run by charity Family Action in partnership with FareShare, delivers good-quality food at a low price to those in need.

“I’ve been through domestic violence so I know how these things can stack up and impact the rest of your life,” Sarah says. “We want to let people know they’re not alone.”

FareShare volunteer handing out food to a charity recipient.

FareShare works with over 1,500 volunteers to get food where it’s needed the most.

It was either keep the house warm or eat. It was quite a relief to know that there are people out there who care and can help.


FareShare recipient-turned-volunteer

A growing need

Stories like Sarah’s have prompted Barclays to support FareShare’s COVID-19 relief work over this difficult winter, to help the charity meet an unprecedented level of need.

FareShare was one of 100 UK charities to receive a donation of £100,000 from the Barclays 100x100 UK COVID-19 Community Relief Fund. The initiative – which forms part of the bank’s wider COVID-19 Community Aid Package – aims to help charity partners that are providing vital support to people in UK communities who have been hit hard by the pandemic. What’s more, from December until the end of February 2021, Barclays has double matched public donations to the charity – so for every pound given to FareShare through Barclays, the bank has committed to adding two pounds more, up to total matched donations of £1m. In addition, Barclays colleagues have had their donations to selected food charities around the world double matched, including to FareShare in the UK.

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare, says that Barclays’ support has been “absolutely fantastic”, helping the charity’s network deal with a new level of challenge.

“It allows us to get food where it's needed,” he says. “It has also raised the profile of what we do. The endorsement has been really valuable – an organisation that is very well known in every part of the UK deciding to support us with our pandemic response. And then of course, the funding is just extraordinary.”

Barclays’ COVID-19 Community Aid Package

Barclays has established a £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package to support communities impacted by the social and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. It consists of two components: donations to charities working in the communities where Barclays operates; and a commitment to match personal colleague donations to their chosen charities who are helping COVID-19 relief efforts in their communities.

Find out more about Barclays’ COVID-19 Community Aid Package.

FareShare: Need to know

FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, with more than 30 warehouses across the UK. It takes food from the food industry that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors, a short shelf life or overproduction. That food, which is the same as the food you’d eat at home, is then redistributed through a network of 11,000 frontline organisations, across the UK such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices. Since the pandemic, FareShare has more than doubled its work, providing the equivalent of more than two million meals a week to people who might not otherwise eat. Find out more about FareShare.

Meeting the challenge

For FareShare, the pandemic has brought a huge change in focus. Originally, the charity was set up to deal with the issue of surplus food going to waste from the food industry by distributing it to community groups such as school breakfast clubs, lunch clubs or homeless shelters.

Boswell says: “We exist because there is an environmental problem, which is perfectly good to eat surplus food going to waste, and what we're trying to do is drive social benefit from that food instead. But in order to cope with the emergency here, we have to recognise that actually we've got a very special infrastructure. We've done things during the last year that we couldn't normally do.”

At the peak of the pandemic, FareShare was distributing food equivalent to over three million meals a week – triple its normal amount.

Barclays’ support allows us to get food where it's needed. It has also raised the profile of what we do.

Lindsay Boswell

CEO, FareShare

FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell holding a crate of fruit.

FareShare was distributing food equivalent to over three million meals a week at the peak of the pandemic.

FareShare has been working with local community groups and charities to ensure that food goes to those who need it, even when the usual channels such as schools and lunch clubs are closed.

And while the charity has still been dealing with food that would otherwise have been wasted –including items from pubs and restaurants that were suddenly closed down due to lockdown restrictions – it has been supported by donations from supermarkets too.

Public donations, and those from corporate partners like Barclays, have ensured that FareShare can continue to keep its infrastructure running to get food to clients.

Boswell says: “My central team sources the food. We then get the food to 30 warehouses that cover the entirety of the four nations of the UK. Then a small team of employees and a huge army of over 1,500 volunteers do the last mile delivery out to frontline charities. It's been an amazing collaboration – getting large volumes of food out and then relying on the local communities to work out where that can best be deployed.”

Colleague in the community

Mori Tehrani, Director in BX CRFTL technology in Northampton

Mori has raised £10,860 for FareShare with Barclays' double matching, helping provide 43,440 meals to people in need.

When Barclays colleague Mori Tehrani, Director in BX CRFTL technology in Northampton, found out about the bank’s double matching campaign, he thought it was “a timely and super initiative”.

Reading about the difficulties that millions of people in the UK are facing when it comes to feeding themselves and their families, Mori decided to participate in a three-day fundraiser to raise awareness of this hardship and continue the conversation with colleagues and the wider community.

“I saw what footballer Marcus Rashford did to raise awareness for free meals for school children and that motivated me,” Mori says. “What really brought this home for me was when a mother being interviewed on the impact of COVID-19 said that there were many occasions when she goes without food – sometimes for three days at a time.

“I raised £3,620, which equates to a total of £10,860 for the charity with Barclays’ double matching – and helped FareShare provide 43,440 meals to people in need. I exceeded my target and feel very proud and happy to work for an organisation that is staying close to global issues and, more importantly, what is happening in the UK.”

More than a plate of food

Boswell believes that charities like FareShare, working with local partners and volunteers like Sarah, can make a huge difference. This is particularly the case now, when isolation is common, many people are out of work and there is a lack of hope for some, he explains.

“What we try very, very hard to do is to not just use our food as a sticking plaster,” he says. “What I mean by that is, if you're hungry, and I give you a meal, you're no longer hungry – but if I haven't done anything to sort out why you're hungry, six hours later you’ll be hungry again.

“If the food comes with an offer from the charity providing it to support you with a counsellor or advice worker, it can help with other issues such as debt, domestic violence, mental health, drug or alcohol addiction. It is about somebody who is metaphorically putting their arm around your shoulder saying: ‘You're not alone, we will support and help you’. In this way the food acts as an incentive to attend an organisation that provides the wrap around services to tackle the causes of hunger, as well as the hunger itself.

“In happier times, food is a way of demonstrating love and affection, it’s used for family gatherings and to bring communities together through street parties. Even during lockdown, food is still connecting and creating those links and communities. That's what makes food really special.”